The nature of advertising activity has completely changed since advertising began. Increasing industrialization led to the continuous development of promotion. The globalization of competition in the 1980s had an impact on the expansion of national advertising towards international advertising (Ukpere and Slabbert, 2009). Because of globalization, cultural influences have played an important role in designing advertisements.
Culture is an important aspect of every society and clearly has an effect on people’s behaviour. This impact is a key factor in a science such as advertising which aims to influence behaviour. In this context it is important to know which different factors influence people with different cultural backgrounds. This paper seeks to answer the following question: •
How should advertising be adapted so that it can be used in different countries with different cultural backgrounds?
In these fast-changing times, there has been a prominent debate about the standardization and adaptation of international advertising (Agrawal, 1995, in Backhaus and van Doorn, 2007). Duncan and Ramaprased (1995, in Backhaus and van Doorn, 2007) note that the homogenization and assimilation of consumer needs leads to standardized measures, resulting in a compromise between economic benefits and the needs of local markets. So it is important to decide which direction you would prefer to take as a manager of an international company (Krist, 2009).
The structure of the essay will be as follows: firstly, there will be a short explanation of culture and advertising. It is essential to define these different components separately in order to arrive at a better understanding of the connection between culture and advertising later on. At the end there will be a conclusion presenting some important facts and findings from the analysis. The analysis will be based on some of the dimensions and concepts put forward by Hofstede, which will be explained below.
2. CROSS-CULTURAL ADVERTISING
Many authors have written about cultural differences and influences in advertising. But you cannot find any generally accepted definitions of culture. This does not necessarily mean that there are no good definitions. Hofstede, a distinguished scholar of culture, wrote: “culture is more often a source of conflict than of synergy. Cultural differences are a nuisance at best and often disaster” (Hofstede, 2009). In this comment, he refers to some issues which can arise not only in social interaction but also in preparing advertisements. According to another definition, by Shaules (2010, p. 163): “deep culture is the (primarily) out-of-awareness patterns of meaning that serve as the organizational schema for one’s cultural worldview”. Shaules mentions in his definition that there are hidden patterns, caused by cultural influences, in the social interaction between people from different countries. It is important to bring such hidden patterns to light, so as to understand better the behaviour and thinking of different cultures; when you know more about a specific culture you are able to direct more effective advertising towards it. Another example of a good definition is: “Culture refers to the cohesive thinking and behaviour emerging from a group of people” (Holliday, 1999, p. 237). This definition reflects the fact that what is known as culture is the behaviour of a group, so that a single individual cannot define a distinct culture; more than one person is needed. A country can contain different cultures within cultures; for instance, the culture in a workplace. Hofstede developed 5 cultural dimensions in order to explain cultural differences between countries in greater detail: •
Power Distance Index
Hofstede (1997, in Jandt, 2004, p. 15) defines power distance as “the extent to which less powerful members of institutions and organizations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally”. •
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